Pete Rose was the best baseball player I've even seen in person. Charlie Hustle was an all-star at five different positions (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF). He hated to lose.
Rose's vice wasn't booze or drugs. It was gambling. When he wasn't chasing skirts he liked to put action on just about any sporting event. He started off with horses & football but when he got in the hole big, he decided to bet on what he knew best - Major League Baseball.
Now before I get into why Pete was a lousy baseball bettor, let me explain why I like betting on bases. First off, the schedule is deep almost every day. This allows a great selection of bets, making it easier to find the value you need to turn a profit. Secondly, many books offer reduced juice on baseball, with a "dime line" at most places (some are even better). Also, baseball is the stat nerd's game of choice. There is so much free data available today, it's almost overwhelming.
And finally, I like the pace of the sweat in MLB. It's not maddeningly fast like hoops. I can watch or listen to a game without riding the roller coaster of emotions most action junkies experience.
So if you feel the same way, just how do you go about being sharp with baseball? For me, it's value. Find the best value wager on the board. I like to bet sides, but this also applies to totals as well.
Baseball is a game of situations and there is data available for every scenario. Home/away, day/night, indoors/outdoors, grass/turf, lefty/righty, time zone, temperature, day, month, year. If you can name it, someone is keeping track for you.
MLB is also a game of streaks. Who's hot, who's not. Mo Rivera or Carlos Marmol. Look for the teams on a tear. Pay attention to who wins player of the week, they might win you a bet or two.
Without going into a hardcore mathematical recipe, you should look for both solid stats AND recent trends to support your pick. But you should also shop for decent odds before pulling the trigger.
The most common bets are money line (straight up winners), run line (favorites are -1.5 runs, dogs are +1.5) and totals (over/under).
I prefer to bet sides. The over/under specialists are fanatical about the weather, finding their value in the wind patterns at Wrigley or the humidity at Coors field.
If you find a heavy favorite you like, you can always bet the run line for higher payouts. The -200 on a money line might pay +120 on the run line. You just need your squad to win by 2.
There is also great value in underdogs. With a very even pitching match-up, sometimes dogs go off at +130 and up. If it's truly a coin flip, that's the right side of the bet to take. Heck, even the worst teams win 60-70 times each season.
Now, back to Pete. Pete was never a great gambler. He was an action junkie. He only bet baseball because he got into a huge hole. But he was a baseball man all of his life, so you would think his expertise should have helped him get unstuck.
I have two thoughts on Rose the baseball bettor. He was never a value bettor. He let huge sums ride on heavy favorites which didn't pay a fair price for his risk. And in my opinion, I actually think Pete was too emotionally invested in MLB to be an objective punter. Sure, he knew the situational stats. But the guy who hated to lose probably bet against guys who pissed him off instead of nice guy bush league level talent.
Enjoy the games and look for value, so you don't end up like Pete.